Hertha buoyed by ‘sensible’ proposal for new stadium site

Bundesliga football club Hertha Berlin has reacted positively to a proposal from Iris Spranger, Senator for the Interior, Digitisation and Sport of the State of Berlin, to house a new stadium at a different site within the Olympiapark.

Spranger has proposed a plot of land north of the historic Maifeld open-air venue as a means to resolve Hertha’s long-running efforts to secure a more intimate stadium when compared to its current home, the Olympiastadion (pictured).

“We still have a lot of open space on the edge of the Maifeld where you could put a smaller stadium,” Spranger told local broadcaster rbb. “I want Hertha to get a new football stadium.”

Spranger said the proposal would need to be analysed, calling on Hertha to “do its homework” in terms of adjusting its plans for stadium capacity. The senator also put forward a “minimum requirement” for the club to commit to playing games at the Olympiastadion.

“And of course I expect Hertha to extend the seasons in the Olympiastadion until 2030,” she said.

Hertha and the State of Berlin are also said to be discussing the formation of a joint operating company for the Olympiastadion and any new stadium. In January, Hertha reiterated its intention to develop a new stadium adjacent to its current Olympiastadion home in the Olympiapark, releasing fresh renderings of its vision for such a project.

Hertha has been attempting to progress plans to develop a new home for several years and in February 2020 stated that the Olympiapark would be its preferred location. In November 2018, Hertha revealed it was targeting an opening date of July 25, 2025 for a new-look Olympiastadion, with a new stadium the favoured choice over redevelopment of its historic current home.

Built for the German capital’s hosting of the 1936 summer Olympic Games, the Olympiastadion has been Hertha’s home since 1963. However, with a current capacity of around 74,000, Hertha is seeking a more intimate stadium for football matches, and one without an athletics track.

Hertha’s previous intended stadium site currently includes residential apartments, with negotiations over the land having stalled a number of times amid concerns from residents. Spranger said this location is now off the table, adding: “We will not cause any tenants to leave their houses.”

Reacting to Spranger’s proposal, Hertha spokesman Marcus Jung said: “We are very happy about the positive signal from Senator Spranger. The proposal is a sensible solution, because it combines the many advantages that the Olympiapark offers, especially with regard to the infrastructural connection.”

Jung said Hertha will now “immediately and intensively check” the feasibility of the proposal. “We are looking forward to the upcoming talks with all those involved,” he added.

The latest news comes just days after Hertha appeared to have suffered a fresh blow in drawing up a future stadium pathway, after the district of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf rejected the proposed development of a new venue alongside the Olympiastadion.

The Olympiastadion and Olympiapark are located in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and the district office stated that it would be against the concept of having two major stadia on the same plot of land.

District Councillor responsible for sports, Heike Schmitt-Schmelz, cited a number of reasons including noise pollution, traffic concerns and the protection of the Olympiastadion as a historic building. The district is also concerned that a new stadium would mean the Olympiastadion could become a loss-maker for Berlin, without Hertha games.

Hertha described Schmitt-Schmelz’s statements on Wednesday as a “personal opinion”, adding they would “have no influence on the good talks with the Senate”.

Image: Samuel Svec on Unsplash